Extra 2 hours at school per week for Grade 1s who pilot African language

2013-11-29 08:00

The department of basic education will from next year increase schooling hours in some schools in order to accommodate the teaching of an extra and compulsory African language.

The initiative will see the department increase the schooling hours at Grade 1, where it will first be piloted next year, from 23 hours to 25 hours per week. This means that pupils in selected classes will spend approximately half an hour extra at school every day.

The department will pilot the initiative in selected Grade 1 classes next year, and hopes to implement it incrementally from Grade 1 in 2015 to Grade 12 in 2026. Schooling hours will differ from grade to grade, according to department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

Through the project, the department will force all schools to teach at least one African language as a first additional language, meaning it will become compulsory for all pupils to take an African language up to Grade 12.

Based on the demographics and population of each school, the school governing body, principal and the school management team will decide which African language will be adopted, said Mhlanga.

“Based on the demographics of the school population, and considering the ‘language majority’ of the learners, schools will select their languages of choice to represent that majority,” he said.

On teaching capacity for the extra subject, he said each school will first determine if there are competent teachers internally. “If existing staff are not to be used, the department will pay for the employment of a teacher for the required hours.

“The school may use a part-time teacher or two or more. Schools may choose to use an itinerant teacher, who will move from school to school. This option would only be viable if the chosen schools are close by.”

The department will provide additional training to those teachers, he said, adding that schools can choose to teach more than one language if they so wish and have the resources to do so. But one must be an African language, he said.

He explained the rationale behind the decision to introduce a compulsory African language: “Multilingualism is an important tool for social cohesion, and for individual and social development. Community life takes place mainly in African languages. Learners proficient in African languages are thus able to participate and take leading roles in local institutions and organisations.”

He said learners would benefit “by being able to communicate in an African language and also being able to access learning through an African language. Being multilingual is of great value for all citizens living in South Africa”.

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